Altar frontal showing Christ and the Adulteress



One of three panels in a series made for the Archbishop of Magdeburg, the others being M 8016 and M8061. Sixteen of the series survive and two others are known from an early 16th century drawing. It is believed the ivory panels may have constituted an altar-frontal, hence the conventional name 'Magdeburg antependium'. By the mid-11th century the panels were being detached and re-used. The scene is of Christ and the Adulteress: Christ, with a nimbed halo, barefoot, seated on a folding stool against the wall, bends down to write on a footstool on the ground in the atrium of the Temple (described in John 8:2-11). Two bas-relief heads on the footstool. Four supporting disciples are at above left; and from the right the Adulteress and four of her accusers. The eyes of Christ and the other five main figures are drilled. The scene takes place in an architectural setting with simplified acanthus capitals on each column and beading around the arch.